This week and next week will feature a two part series on Journaling by Dannielle Barry.
Many of us (40 odd!) here at St Nic’s are currently studying the Boundaries course in our small groups on either Tuesday or Wednesday. In our Boundaries workbook there is a section on journaling, which is what I’d like to talk about in these posts.
It’s a love-hate relationship…
First of all I should say that I have a love-hate relationship with journaling. Fortunately now its more often love than hate, and it often comes naturally, but it has taken a little bit of effort and practice to get to that point. I say this to give you hope. If these journaling sections intimidate or even terrify you, it’s okay, it will get easier, there’s light at the end of the tunnel – and I promise the experience is helpful, and maybe even rewarding.
For me journaling provides an outlet when I feel overwhelmed: with thoughts, with life, with questions. Have you ever had the experience of racing thoughts, too much to think about, that awful panicked or anxious feeling? Try writing some of it down. The act of physically putting thoughts on paper will often stop the thought spiral or slow it down, and making short lists when you feel like you have to much to do helps to form a plan of attack. Often I’m surprised that in taking this time to write I realise that the things I need to do are achievable, and the things I’ve been worried about might not be as bad as first thought.
Another good reason to journal is to keep records, particularly records of prayer requests and answered prayer. This is only something I’ve started this year, but it has been such a blessing to go back over my prayer requests and record some of the ways God has answered them. In doing this I’ve also realised how quick I can be to forget all the times God has provided, and therefore so quick to doubt and question whether he’ll be faithful again in my future worries and problems. Keeping records also helps me to reflect on my life journey, learn from it and see the ways I am constantly growing and changing. Having recorded stories of good memories and not so good has been an unexpected blessing, a way to really see how God is working all things for my good (Romans 8:28).
If you’re not yet convinced there is also some evidence that journaling can be good for your health. One psychologist from Texas, James Pennebaker has researched the strengthening effect journaling has on our immune cells. Other research into problem solving hypothesizes that by transferring our thoughts to paper the right side of the brain becomes unlocked to solve problems from a creative point of view rather than the left brained analytical approach we tend to.
Please visit again for next week’s Journaling Part 2: The only rule? There are none…